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Post-apocalyptic society is becoming a recurring theme at Syfy. With Defiance set to return this Thursday night, it's particularly fitting that Dominion would be paired with it. Backdrop aside, Vaun Wilmott's new series veers far more toward supernatural than it does sci-fi, in its focus an impending celestial battle between good and evil, with mankind trapped in the middle. Based on the series premiere episode, factoring in the cast and what we were able to see of the special effects, Dominion has the potential to be a suspenseful and darkly thrilling new drama. Whether or not it meets that potential remains to be seen.
Set as a followup to Peter Schink's 2010 film Legion, Dominion is set 25 years after a war between humanity and angels, which has left the human population severely depleted and Earth in shambles. The story is set in the fortified city of Vega, formerly Las Vegas, where a caste system is in place to manage resources. Christopher Egan's character Alex Lannon's only status within this system is tied to his involvement in the military. He's introduced to use on the outside of Vega, as he comes face to face with some of the dark enemies lurking beyond the walls of Vega. It's a demonstration of is bravery, which borders on reckless.
There's a lot of exposition to sift through in the first episode of Dominion. In addition to the introduction of the central character, Alex, we're also introduced to Michael (Tom Wisdom), the angel who sided with humanity while Gabriel and the other angels waged war on the human race 25 years prior. Michael is still working at the side of the humans in Vega, serving as a guardian angel to the city, offering necessary counsel and protection. Michael was the angel who found the "chosen one" in Legion and ensured safety for the child that would grow up be mankind's savior.
On the human side, we have Claire Riesen (Roxanne McKee), daughter to General Edward (Alan Dale), the head of House Riesen and Vega's military leader. Claire is involved in a secret romance with Alex, though she's betrothed to William (Luke Allen-Gale), a true believer of "The Chosen One." William's father is the ambitious and ruthless David, head of House Whele, played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Anthony Head (speaking with an American accent!). If you're keeping track, a union between Claire and William would bring these two powerful houses together.
We're introduced to all of these characters and a bit of their personal drama as Vega prepares for a big jubilee celebration, and Alex considers convincing Claire to abandon her impending marital obligations and run away with him. Politics, romance and the coming war between humans and angels factor in to this introduction, along with quite a bit of action as we see the dark threats that loom outside the walls of Vega, which may find their way into the city, threatening the dwindling human population. As for the backdrop, though there are people in Vega living crammed together with barely enough to eat, there's no shortage of glamour among the wealthier caste, which allows for beautiful costumes and settings to color this futuristic world. The noticeable contrast between the rich and the poor adds a bit of depth to the setting of this series.
Syfy only sent us one episode of Dominion to screen, and it was an unfinished episode, meaning some of the special effects weren't completed, so I don't want to comment much on the visual side of the series, though I'm hopeful it'll be stunning. But on the dramatic side, I'm optimistic about the plot as different and exciting original series at Syfy. Sure, it's not science fiction, which might turn off those who'd prefer aliens to angels, but as a drama focused on a society that's established but flawed, and the tease of a celestial battle, there's reason to be optimistic about this drama. And for a series focused on the supernatural, angels is an interesting direction to go, especially as it veers away from vampires and werewolves and toward a subject that's less frequently explored within this genre.
Having only seen one episode, it's hard to comment much on the direction of Dominion's plot beyond the initial set-up. With its complex backdrop and developing mythology, it's not hard to imagine this series quickly crumbling under its own weight, especially if it can't get the pacing right. But the optimistic side of me looks at the pilot and sees interesting character developments and the promise of a war between humans and angels, which could offer some truly thrilling and unique visual moments from this TV series. With that in mind, Dominion's premiere episode offers enough to make me want to watch a few more episodes to see where this story goes.
Dominion premieres Thursday, June 19 at 9:00 p.m. ET on Syfy.